Does the subject of how to answer the telephone at your self-storage facility really deserve a whole column? If you answered “no,” how would you qualify your phone skills? Are you a cold fish or a risk-taker when it comes to greeting customers? Consider the following rating scale:
“Thank you for calling XYZ Storage. This is Bob.”
Does anything above a “safe” greeting work for you? The others are certainly more memorable. Go ahead and call your competitors. I’m willing to bet most of them are not very impressive in the phone-answering department. If you’re interested in how you can generate more business for your facility by improving your phone salutation, read on.
What the Greeting Does
Your phone greeting is important for many reasons. First, it identifies you to the caller. He knows he has reached the correct number and (if the greeting is executed correctly) that he has reached a live person, not an automated system.
Next, the greeting informs the caller who you are and what you do. If your business is “A Space Place,” the name is clever enough; but unless you add “a self-storage superstore,” the caller might not know what your business is about. Once you add that bit of detail, you have begun to set yourself apart from the rest of the business world.
The greeting sets the pace of the call. Use enough speed in your delivery to sound motivated, but be careful the words don’t come tumbling out too fast, or your caller will be confused and feel rushed. Speed can overrule the content of the message if you’re not cautious. I once called a local pizza parlor and got this scripted greeting: “Thank you for calling Pizza Hut, home of the personal pan pizza. This is Bob. Will this be for pick-up or delivery?” The first time I heard it, the rep said it with pizzazz, and it was effective. On subsequent calls, however, it sounded redundant and canned, and most of the time, the speaker went way too fast.
The greeting also sets the tone, essentially making or breaking the call. Again, success is all in the delivery. If your supervisor requires you to answer the phone with a cool or warm greeting and you’re not up to the task, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The motivation for excellence comes from within, not from striving to meet a minimum requirement. It helps if you get comfortable with the greeting by adopting it to your own style.
For example, consider comedians. Their delivery styles are essential to their success, even though they may be drastically different from their peers. One of my favorite comedians is Steven Wright, whose slow and lifeless delivery would be a phone-answering disaster. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Bob Goldwaith. His delivery has so much animation it hurts. What is common between these artists is they have developed a personal style, a trademark. So figure out which phone approach works best for you, and make it yours.
Create a Compelling Reason
Here’s a fact of life: People want to be with those who are positive and add to their quality of life. If you’re willing to go out on the limb with your phone greeting—just a little bit—you can get callers to visit your store just because they want to meet that upbeat person on the other end of the line.
Keep in mind many prospects seek self-storage because of a stressful event occurring in their lives, and a positive force is very welcome just then. If you are genuine and motivated in your presentation, if it doesn’t sound forced or “purchased,” you will naturally communicate the desired message to your callers.
It’s the Way You Say It
Some days are harder than others when it comes to selling yourself in a phone greeting. That’s where the hot version really excels—that part about your “personal best” is the clincher. Many self-storage sales have been sealed (or lost) at the “hello” stage of the business/customer relationship. That’s why, before you answer the phone, you have to prepare yourself to give it your all: Take a deep breath, smile, and go!
Try it. Risk a little, gain a lot. Don’t be afraid to be memorable. Go out on a limb and see if you don’t brighten someone’s day because you answered the phone with a unique, positive, “You gotta do business with me” attitude.
Bob Copper is the founder of Self-Storage 101, a provider of do-it-yourself management tools. The company empowers managers and owners to take control of their assets and compete with institutional players at a fraction of the cost. For more information, call 866.269.1311; email [email protected]; visit www.selfstorage101.com. RK Kliebenstein is the president of Coast-To-Coast Storage. He can be reached at 561.638.1851 or via e-mail at [email protected].